Centralizing collection and payment systems with SaaS

Founded in 1853, the Veolia group aims to be the benchmark company for ecological transformation. In 2022, with nearly 220,000 employees worldwide, the group designs and provides game-changing solutions that are both useful and practical for water, waste, and energy management. Through its three complementary business activities, Veolia helps to develop access to resources, preserve available resources, and replenish them.

Veolia now boasts 250 office locations across 45 countries and deals with 250 different banks in 70 countries. In May 2021, the company signed a merger deal with Suez, cementing its position as a worldwide leader in ecological transformation and bringing its total annual revenue to around €37 billion—a jump that put pressure on the treasury department to keep up with the group’s payment management needs.

Old technology, new demands

Veolia was managing its treasury payments with a generic on-premise solution that had not been specifically designed for treasury. The technology was old, inefficient, and ill-equipped to keep up with the volume of transactions the group’s treasury department needed to process on SWIFT, at the speed they wanted to do it.

“When our business units started using our former solution to submit commercial payments, it couldn’t cope with the increased transaction volume,” explains Samer Sibahi, Head of Project Management and Treasury Systems. “We jumped from two million payments a year to 22 million, and today we’re at 25 million. The technology simply wasn’t designed to handle this kind of volume, so we needed to find a dedicated SWIFT module that could support the treasury needs of a big international group like ours.”

Making changes to the old system was also a slow, complicated process. “We used to include the initials ‘IR’ in payment requests by default because that was the name of our solution. Our bank called and said we had to stop because it was the country code for Iran. It should have been a simple fix, but changing even just this tiny detail in our system was a huge deal and a big headache,” Sibahi recalls.

“The Datalog solution allowed us to easily scale up from 2 million to 25 million payments per year,” says Samer Sibahi, TMS and PMO of the group’s treasury. “And, we found a solution with an intuitive interface, which we can modify ourselves, without code and without having to reboot our system.”

Samer Sibahi, Head of Project Management and Treasury Systems

The standout choice

Veolia decided they needed to move from on-premise technology to a SaaS-based solution that could be managed and operated outside the company. They had two main objectives:

1/ Merge all the disparate payment systems in use by the Paris head office and the group’s international subsidiaries into one centralized payment system, maintained and managed from Paris.

2 / Use the system to maintain a “global balance sheet” for the company, settling debts via intra-company transfers between subsidiaries when possible, rather than going through a bank and paying unnecessary fees.

After carefully reviewing all the main players on their shortlist, Veolia concluded that Datalog was the only solution that met every single one of their requirements and was powerful enough to handle the high transaction volume at the speed they needed to process it. Datalog’s solution also came with its own team of dedicated consultants to ensure the implementation and training process went smoothly and disrupted their business as little as possible.

Bringing it all together

Since managing and tracking payments was their most pressing issue, Veolia decided to begin their “treasury makeover” with Datalog’s Payment Factory. After successfully implementing the solution at their head office in France, they rolled it out to users at all of the group’s subsidiaries worldwide. Subsidiaries continued to make their own payments from their own bank accounts, but transactions were now all recorded and tracked in one centralized company-wide system, based in Paris.

Thanks to Datalog’s Payment Factory, Veolia has been able to automate, track and secure all of its payments and collections within a single system, allowing the treasury team to do their work efficiently, and act quickly and decisively, certain in the knowledge that they have a comprehensive global overview of all the group’s payment activity, across all of its entities.

No limits

“With the Suez merger, I know there will be a bigger load on the system, but I’m really not worried. I’m confident the solution is powerful and flexible enough to handle it. And because it’s a SaaS-based system, Datalog will take care of any hardware issues, like infrastructure or memory,” says Sibahi.

“We’re impressed with how Datalog continues to invest in their technology, adding new dashboard features, improving the user experience and making it even more flexible and customizable,” he observes. “They’re not just focused on SWIFT, but also cash flows, financial instruments, and following the global treasury market. We can see that the day we want someone to take over the scope of our whole treasury, they’ll be the right people for the job.”

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